Tower is doomed

Yesterday while I was at Tower Records in Harvard Square I noticed they were playing some fun reggae/dance hall music. “What album is that?” I asked the cashier. He showed me the album: Beenie Man: Back to Basics. I like Beenie Man. I have a few of his albums. Why not buy it? I found the album on the shelves, which took a while, and discovered it cost $18.99 (although I see it’s only $14.99 on the Tower site). That was too much for me to make a spontaneous purchase. If it was available on Apple’s iTunes store, I could get all 15 tracks for $15.

In fact, you can get it from Apple. And there’s a fair amount of added value too. It’s easy to preview all the songs. You don’t have to buy every song. You get related music recommendations. Much more music is available.

We’re always hearing how freeloading teenagers are stealing music and ripping off struggling artists. The sad part of my story is that I was happy to spend some money on music today, but it was way too easy for Apple to get it instead of Tower. In other words, a place like Tower gets whacked both by freeloaders and casual buyers. I’ll be sorry to see them go (they have a good magazine rack!) but I can’t imagine that they’ll last much longer.

Incidentally, I think Apple is missing a big opportunity by sequestering their music store inside their iTunes software. When I went to make a link to Beenie Man’s latest album, I couldn’t find a URL to link to. My first thought was actually to link to Amazon, but then I decided to throw some traffic Tower’s way.